CHARLESTON, W.Va. - When a person's heart pumps as little blood as Alicia Petry's did in the final days of her pregnancy -- at just about five percent -- it's rare he or she will survive.
For a few days leading up to her emergency cesarean section, Petry, 22, of the Boone County community of Comfort, felt short of breath. She told her mother she needed to go to the emergency room when it became too much.
"I remember getting out of the car and getting into the wheelchair," she said. "I was going down the hallway saying 'Baby time! Baby time,' but that's all I remember.
"And the next thing I know, I wake up in Cleveland. My belly is flat. I didn't know where my baby was, and I was freaking out.
"They had to bring him to me to calm me down; I got to meet him when he was 2 months old.
"I was in a coma for two months before I got to see him. When I saw him, I was crying ... hard."
Petry's foggy memory doesn't recall entering the triage, when nurses noticed something was wrong and called Dr. Stephen Bush, a West Virginia University/Charleston Area Medical Center Ob/Gyn.
Bush and his medical team helped save Petry and her baby's life -- at 35 weeks -- when she went into cardiac arrest.
"Because she was short of breath, the baby wasn't getting enough oxygen either, so the baby was in distress and we had to deliver, so we did an emergency C-section," Bush said. "It was the fastest one I've ever done. In 10 minutes, she was delivered and closed."
During the C-section, doctors discovered she wasn't having any heart function. A team worked with her for nearly two hours before she was stable enough to transport to CAMC Memorial for a balloon pump to help control her heart.
Once she was stabilized at Memorial, she was sent to the Cleveland Clinic, where she was equipped with a pump to help her heart until it re-establishes its strength.